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Boys, Toys, Electric Irons, and TVs 01: Futures End #0 and #1

Five years ago, I wrote on this very site: “‘Will I ever reread those?’ I think to myself, looking at the four volumes of 52 and I just can’t say. It’s certainly possible, especially if I feel like doing one trade each week for a month’s worth of Reread Reviews (which actually isn’t a bad idea), but… if I don’t think I’ll ever reread them, why do I keep them? Although, based on my experience of trading comics as a kid, I know that if I do ever get rid of them, sometime in the following ten years, I’ll have a strong urge to reread them and then where will I be?”

When I moved in with my then-girlfriend/now-wife, I sold those four volumes to my local shop. That was my last real experience with DC’s weekly comics and I didn’t even read it weekly. The only DC comic I buy anymore is Wonder Woman. Brian Azzarello writes that. Brian Azzarello is one of the four writers of Futures End. I’m going to buy Futures End every week and write about it here. So, now, five years later: Futures End.

You ever read the weird hypothetical arguments people make online that don’t apply to them? Bullshit like “While I completely understood this comic, could a new reader?” or “I have no problem spending $4.99 on this issue, but someone who doesn’t buy comics already might be turned off!” I’ve never understood that. I began thinking about how Futures End #0 and #1 don’t introduce anything. They just jump in. And the way they do so is in such a connected fashion that you might as well call it a double-sized debut issue, especially if you didn’t get the free one until you hit your shop on Wednesday. They don’t bother to explain anything, because what needs to be explained? What Brother Eye is doesn’t matter, because it’s a big computer system that infects and takes over people. Why? Who cares! Who is this new Batman? He’s old Batman’s protégé. Who are the other heroes? Fodder, fodder, and more fodder. Except for the white guy/black guy fire man and the guy with the mask that shoots alien bodysnatchers. They’re not fodder. It’s all fairly simple. I followed along just fine and I couldn’t care less about those that couldn’t because it’s my three bucks, not theirs.

I couldn’t disagree with anyone who said that these aren’t particularly good comics. These weekly series written by a group of writers tend to lean towards a fairly generic voice. As much as I didn’t hate 52, my main memory is bland bland bland. A white haze of mediocrity. That is what Futures End will be no doubt. However, it has one thing going for it that 52 did not: while 52 was stuck filling in a year that already happened, Futures End is about a future that almost certainly will never happen. That means, hey, it will be bland and mediocre, but, maybe, we’ll get a few bits of fucked up that couldn’t happen in a comic that ‘counts.’

Like Green Arrow dying because one half of Firestorm was fucking in a storage room. That’s some serious Spider-Man shit going down. Because turning off your phone to get a little lovin’ is a sin.

Otherwise, Futures End is wholesale slaughter and I really don’t care. I hope DC kills off all of the Wildstorm characters. Maybe then they can get shunted back to their own separate world where hackery is not allowed, because that sure as shit ain’t the Nu52.

My favourite part of Futures End #0/1 is when Bruce Wayne, missing a limb, half-dead, red-tinged red, looks at his young protégé soon destined for the past, and tells Terry that he must avoid his past self, because he will try to stop him. It’s such a bleak and depressing panel. Bruce is self-aware enough to know that he’s a myopic bastard that has not only killed the human race, but will stop someone else from saving it if it means pointing out that his actions were wrong. It’s the perfect way to begin a comic that stars another Batman. This is a comic where all of your favourite heroes die or become pawns of the villain. They are all written off as Not Good Enough or Potential Threats. Bruce Wayne will fight so hard for his own infallibility, for the ongoing status quo, that he will kill planet; so, his protégé must kill the future. Elegant, no?

My biggest disappointment is how the Brother Eye-infected heroes on the cover of issue 0 look cooler than the versions we see inside. The art in the 0 issue is very uneven. I do like how it ends with Patrick Zircher to flow into the first issue. His style is heavy blacks and a bit of sketchiness that convey the oncoming darkness of the future. Judging from what little we saw of Dan Jurgens in issue 0, his contribution will be a weariness and maturity that suggests just how fragile-yet-built-in-stone these characters can be. I honestly couldn’t pick out the other regular Futures End contributors in that jam issue if my life depended on. Which is what I was expecting heading into this weekly series. Maybe the actual issues will be better. Maybe they’ll flow. Maybe…

It’s a series premised upon maybes. And killing them. I can dig it.

7 Comments

This is the best name for a column of this sort ever. Fantastic work.

Earth was really dyin’, indeed.

fantastic title for a great article. its great to see batman beyond finally make his way into the DC proper but you’re right, its a fight for a future that wont ever happen but its going to be so fun to watch who gets killed or see what happens.

I read issue Zero & thought, “I wonder if the person Batman Beyond has to kill to save the future is Dan Didio?” ;-)

Wow. I guess thank you for reading “Future’s End” for me.

Yeah, better you than me.

I’m not surprised that the Bendis guy had no problem with these comics. Chad, I love you, but you can make hay out of anything.

Travis Pelkie

May 11, 2014 at 2:59 am

I read the 0 issue, since I did get it FCBD. I think I agree with what Mark Waid essentially said about the first issue, that it’s the 52-iest book around. I will be interested to read these reviews, at least, because, y’know, Chad, but my main feeling with this book was “man, haven’t I read this stuff before?”

I think van Sciver did the first whatever # of pages at the start of the zero issue, and I thought I picked out the Jurgens pages, but yeah, I dunno the rest.

I think those hypothetical arguments are people thinking of noobs, and figuring that books of this sort are, in theory, designed to appeal to potential readers (people who aren’t already comics geeks like us), and figuring that if too many books that are supposed “jumping on points” aren’t that, we won’t expand comics readership. Which I know isn’t a thing you give a shit about, and I appreciate that you point out that it’s not that great an argument.

It was definitely a book where nothing really needed to be explained, but on the other hand, if it is that simple, why do I care what’s happening? If everyone’s pretty much cannon fodder (and yet also characters we’re supposed to recognize and go “oh shit, no you di-int!”), what’s the motivation for me to keep reading?

(case in point: this week I also picked up Critter #20, a dollar book [since it was a buck, I figured I'd try the Big Dog Ink title], which is presumably designed as a jumping on point, and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t figure out enough of what was going on to be able to care enough to keep getting the book. There’s too much entertainment that’s too good just in comics, let alone any other entertainment venue, to get something that’s merely ok.)

Man, I didn’t get the import of the column title until the comments. D’oh! I’ll just claim that my brain hurts like a warehouse and has no room to spare, since I have to cram so many things to store everything in there.

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